The excavated burial site in Valladolid, Spain. Photo @oscar_puente_
By Irish Echo Staff
Archaeologists in Spain believe they may have discovered the burial place of Hugh Roe O’Donnell, “Red Hugh,” the 16th Century Irish nobleman and rebel leader.
A dig under way on a street in Valladolid in northwest Spain has revealed the remains of the church where O’Donnell is believed to have been buried, RTÉ was reporting.
The mayor of Valladolid, Oscar Puente, has posted images of the excavation work and has written: “In the chapel of Wonders, in the exact place where Red Hugh O’Donnell is believed to have been buried as well as Christopher Columbus, some remains and two coffins have appeared.”
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According to the RTÉ report, earlier this month, Dr. Hiram Morgan of University College Cork’s School of History, told RTÉ’s News that Red Hugh died in Spain in 1602 of natural causes.
Red Hugh, along with his father-in-law Hugh O’Neill, the Earl of Tyrone, fought the Nine Years’ War against the English and having sought aid from Spain, their forces were defeated at the siege and Battle of Kinsale which lasted from October, 1601 to early January, 1602.
The actual battle of Kinsale took place on Christmas Eve in 1601 and ended in a decisive defeat of the Irish forces and their Spanish allies.
According to Dr. Morgan, Red Hugh then travelled to Spain to ask the king, Philip III, to send another army to Ireland. He was on his way to Valladolid, then the capital of Spain, when he died. He was barely thirty years old.
Red Hugh, according to the RTÉ report, was buried in the chapel of the Franciscan monastery in the city.
This was the same church where Christopher Columbus was buried in 1506. His remains were later moved, but archaeologists believe the coffin he was originally buried in is one of two found during the excavations.
Dr. Morgan said that Spanish records show that Red Hugh had been suffering from a fever for more than two weeks before he died.
He said one way that he may be identified is that he had both his big toes amputated as a result of frostbite he sustained while hiding out in the Dublin mountains in 1592, this following his escape from four years of captivity at Dublin Castle.